The Fifties was the decade in which the austerity of wartime rapidely receded to be replaced by wealth and growth that resulted burgeoning 1950s fashion.
The 1950s were a turning point for British culture. Beginning with Labour’s defeat by the Conservative Party in 1951 General Election, with their slogan “Set the people free,” a change occurred from state control to increased individual freedom. No more rationing, more commodities. This is when the youth challenged old social and cultural structures and a period of increased affluence and freedom was taking form. After the war, people needed change, people needed a dream to look forward to, a new and vibrant life to live.
One has to look towards the United States to understand this change because the American life had become a sight of inspiration to the British public. American culture was emerging from the media; Hollywood movies, commercial television, glossy magazines and consumer goods were everywhere.
There was no better time for Britain to want this than the post-war austerity mindset that the country was living in. Even though the British establishment defined the American capitalist system as a threat to the old cultural stability, it was the new era emerging: a worldwide economic boom, massive productions and consumptions.
After the war, the rate of unemployment was at an exceptionally low stage and people had enough money to invest. They were looking for a brighter future in order to leave behind the atrocities of war. America was offering what the people not only wanted but also needed it.
With more money, more goods, and people expected to have these goods such as televisions, refrigerators, music system and cars. While these were luxury goods before the war, after they became a necessity, and because of the mass production, these were available to the public for a far more appealing cost. As an example of the developed spending power and the mass production of goods, car ownership rose by 250% between 1950 and 1960.
Now imagine the retail departments. Style and design were going through the “contemporary” era and fashion was developing as fast as other industries. While before the fifties the clothes and accessories were used just as simple clothes, after the war these were seen as statements of uniqueness, of originality, of freedom of expression. These were the times when women and men had the opportunity to express themselves leading the way to the liberties of the sixties.
1950s fashion in the USA began to see a whimsical side with the advent of the poodle skirt, bobby socks and cat-eye glasses. Styles for both men and women were taking on a more casual look, owing much of its influence on American television shows such as “I Love Lucy” and “Leave It to Beaver.” Americans were beginning to have fun with their fashions.
Although skirts for women were still worn well below the knee, the styles were changing. Poodle skirts and swing skirts appeared full and some were worn with crinolines underneath to make them appear even fuller. Poodle skirts were aptly named because of the poodle appliqués displayed on the front of the skirts.
Rhinestones and sequins embellished the appliqués, making the poodle skirt one of the most popular fashions of the era. Teenage girls would wear either a white short-sleeved blouse or a short-sleeved sweater and a scarf tied at the side of the neck, to complete the look. For footwear, saddle shoes and bobby socks were the craze.
For men, jeans and t-shirts or patterned short-sleeved shirts were worn with the cuffs of both the jeans and the shirts rolled up. Black penny loafers and white socks were considered cool. As the ‘50’s progressed, men also added brightly patterned Hawaiian shirts to their wardrobe. Of course, when going out on a date, men still dressed in a suit and tie, but when just hanging out with friends, jeans, or dungarees as they were then called, and white t-shirts were the uniform in the street.
Women started leaving the dresses and skirts in the closets and opting for dungarees or Capri pants for comfort. Capris were form-fitting pants that went just below the knee, and when paired with anything from an oversized man’s shirt, collar up, to a tight sweater, they were all the rage.
1950s fashion colours ranged from the ever popular and hip black and white to the more adventurous turquoise and pink. From Bobby Soxers to Beatniks, the 50’s was a wild ride on the fashion scene.
1950s Fashion: Clothes for Men
The 1950s was a very conservative era for men’s clothing. The focus was typically on looking neat and professional, leaving comfort secondary. Even teenager styles of the decade, which are typically more relaxed than adult clothing, tended towards an orderly and very well-groomed look. Clothing was a symbol of status, as in any generation, and how you presented yourself revealed a fair amount about your personality.
The business look of the 1950s was generally quite drab. Plain coloured suits in dark blue, dark brown, charcoal, or black were most common. Hats were an essential part of the look, and almost every businessman wore one. The fedora was the most popular hat of the time. Even at casual occasions many men would wear their suits, simply removing the jacket and tie to indicate the shift between formal and informal events.
The most common fabrics were silk, cotton, wool, and flannels, with flannel and wool being the most common materials for suits. Wool suits were often considered the most professional, although they were often uncomfortable in the summer months.
The youth of the 1950s fell primarily into two categories of fashion choice, commonly known as preppies and greasers. The preppy look, also known as “Ivy League” was clean cut and often included either cardigan sweaters or letterman jackets. In general, adults found the preppy look more respectable and prefered it for their sons. The greaser look, on the other hand, was a more rebellious fashion statement.
These young men prefered black leather jackets and carefully developed ducktail hairstyles that required a good deal of grease and other hair products to maintain. The collars of these leather jackets were worn up, rather than folded down, and a comb was an almost essential accessesory to the style.
Casual wear for men in the 50’s allowed for a slightly more relaxed look. Untucked shirts were acceptable, and plaid button-ups were quite common. Due to a national interest in old west movies and television shows, styles remeniscient of the old west were common as well. In this era pink was also considered an acceptable color for men’s shirts and ties.
Men’s clothing styles in the 1950s were more conservative than in many other eras, but they still allowed for occasionally casual attire. A man’s status and respectability, or his rebellion against authority, were all things he demonstrated through his choice of clothes.
1950s Fashion: Clothes For Women
Back in the 1950s, clothing for women exuded femininity. Since this time period followed the Great Depression, many women craved clothing that was luxurious and accentuated a voluptuous figure. Many women could not afford to purchase couture clothing, so they often wore mass-produced fashion pieces.
During the day, women often wore straight sheath dresses. Typically, these dresses were fitted and made from satin cotton. The dresses were sleeveless and has a “classic” look to them During the early 50’s, these dresses were very conservative in the neckline area. When the 1960’s came around, these dresses were cut in a more daring way, exposing more of the neckline with a scoop neckline design.
Hourglass suits also became very popular for women during the 1950s. Often, the jacket was fitted and worn along with a full skirt or pencil skirt. Narrow pencil skirts exploded in popularity during the 1950s with women. Often, these suits were created with a “draped” look and women often wore a beautiful scarf at the neckline with such suits. In addition, women often wore Juliet caps or small hats with these types of hourglass suits.
The shirtwaist dress is another design that became increasingly popular during the 1950s. This dress typically buttoned from the neck down to the waist. The dress then turned into a full skirt at the hip, usually extending down to the lower knee cap. These short-sleeved dresses were perfect to wear during the day and were often made with pockets to cater to women’s household duties. During the 1960’s, this look was still popular, however women often tied a belt around the waist to make the dress more fitted.
One major 1950s fashion designer that became influential during the decade was Christian Dior. Dior made the idea of luxury as fashion during the 1950s an acceptable concept. Prior to this, women often wore very cheaply made clothing that did not accentuate the feminine figure. Dior embraced the female figure, and often used very expensive silks in creating his designs. Even as a relatively new designer, women like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis flocked to his designs.
Coco Chanel also became a revered fashion designer during the 1950s. At first, Chanel’s designs were admonished as too loosely cut. However, soon the public began to embrace her fashion designs, especially her rendition of the suit.
Overall, feminine designs became more acceptable and popular during the 1950s. This provided the precursor to the more adventurous fashion looks of the 1960s.
1950s Shoes & Accessories
During the 1950s, shoe accessories opened a whole new world to women. As clothing became more feminine and luxurious, shoe accessories also followed this trend. Some of the most popular styles of shoes introduced during the 1950s were the saddle shoe, stilettos, and patent leather heels.
The saddle shoe became one of the most popular 1950s fashion accessories during the 1950s. Typically, saddle shoes came in black and white colours, and featured a chunky heel. Saddle shoes laced up the front and were a fresh look for the 1950s. Many women wore saddle shoes to sock hops and local dances, and men also wore shoes that were styled in a similar manner to saddle shoes.
Another type of shoe that skyrocketed in popularity during the 1950s was stilettos. Stilettos were often worn with suit jackets and narrow pencil skirts. Women liked stilettos because they accentuated their legs and made them appear long, feminine, and refined. Stilettos were first introduced at a Christian Dior fashion show during the 1950s. Roger Vivier is thought to be the brainchild behind the creation of stilettos. His reasons for creating this shoe were to compliment the luxurious and feminine fashion designs of Christian Dior.
Another reason stiletto became popular were they mirrored the fashion trends of the moment. Dior had revolutionized fashion for women during the 1950s. The public became more accepting of feminine designs, especially after the constricting times of World War II. The public embraced the ideas of luxury and fashion as “enjoyment,” thanks to Christian Dior’s inventive fashion genius. Stilettos were pointed shoes that reflected feminine refinement. Stilettos also exaggerated the womanly curves that Dior so often embraced in his creations.
1950s Fashion accessories also were created to go along with the look of feminism so prevalent during the 1950s. Dainty gloves and pillbox hats were popular accessories to wear along with full bodied or narrow pencil skirts. Women often wore a whole trio of accessories that matched perfectly with one’s outfit. Often, women would even purchase a variety of handbags to wear with certain outfits.
Grace Kelly influenced the world of handbag fashion when she donned a Hermes bag to hide her pregnancy. Hermes is a high-end designer of handbags, renowned for creating large handbags. The idea of using large handbags became popular during the 1950s, due to the influence of Grace Kelly.
!950’s accessories coincided perfectly with the themes of femininity, luxury, and refinement that took place during this time period.
1950s Lingerie & Underwear
In the 1950s, underwear evolved beyond simplicity. Women’s lingerie was no longer just a simple undergarment. Instead, women began to make bold fashion statements with their lingerie. Undergarment manufacturers also experimented with new fabrics, like nylon and Spandex. The 1950s were truly a revolutionary time for the lingerie and underwear industry.
Many people speculate that glamorous clothing became a trend during the 1950s because World War II finally ended. During the war, men and women all over the world had to make many sacrifices and deprive themselves of luxurious items. Corsets and girdles were extremely popular garments among women in the 1950s. The era was all about curves and glamour.
Before Victoria’s Secret, there was Frederick’s Of Hollywood, a lingerie chain founded by Frederick Mellinger. Mellinger first made a name for himself as the inventor of the push-up bra. The push-up bra enhanced the woman’s cleavage by lifting the breasts closer and pulling them closer together. Frederick’s of Hollywood’s was such a popular brand, even the iconic 1950s pinup queen Bettie Paige wore Frederick’s lingerie in several of her photo shoots.
Conical bras, corsets, and girdles started as trends among Hollywood actresses and quickly spread to everyday women as well. The conical bra gave breasts a pointed look (think Madonna during her “Blonde Ambition” tour). Hollywood exposed everyday women to the conical bra when actresses wore them under cashmere sweaters in many popular movies. The corselette, a garment which combines the bra and the girdle, was also immensely popular because it offered women the best of both worlds: a slim waist and an enhanced bust.
Women began to pay attention to leg wear as well. In the 1950s, women started to wear stockings as part of their everyday ensembles. Previously, stockings would be worn primarily for theatrical or seduction purposes. In other words, racy clothing was becoming more and more mainstream. In 1959, tights, a panties and hose combination garment known as pantyhose in America, were first introduced.
Men’s undergarments also evolved in the 1950s. The T-shirt, which was previously only worn as an undergarment, became outerwear. In addition, men’s underwear began being manufactured in newer fabrics and bolder colours.
1950s Hairsytles For Men
As the world transformed during the 1950s, so too did all aspects of the lives of men. Typically, transformation of the 1950s focuses on the transformations that took place in the lives of women. However, this is a mistaken assumption since men also faced much-wanted change in their lives. One aspect this article will discuss is the way men’s hair styles even changed as a result of this over-arching attitude of transformation.
Men’s hair styles were highly influenced by popular personalities during the 1950s. People like Dean Martin and Elvis Presley added the swagger to the scene that created popular hair styles like the “ducktail” and “pompadour.” This article will discuss each of the hair styles prevalent for men during the 1950s and the features that made those hair styles so unique.
The “Ducktail” has already been mentioned and was a popular hair style for men during the 1950s. The style was created with slicked back hair, and the top cut in jagged edges, essentially reflecting the actual ducktail of a duck. When the sides are brushed back, they appear to look like an actual ducktail.
Another hairstyle made popular by James Dean and Elvis Presley featured wide sideburns at the sides of the head. Usually, a hair stylist would cut sideburns about an inch from the head of men, creating a very stylized look.
The “Apache” was a hairstyle that was popular for a brief period during the 1950s. This style was created by keeping hair cut close to the sides and leaving a shaved strip down the centre. Often this hairstyle is called the reversed Mohawk as well.
A style mirroring the “Apache” is the “Flat Top Crewcut.” This hairstyle is what people often think of, when they think of male haircuts during the 1950s. Often, army men had this haircut during the 1950s.
The “Pompadour” is a style that is like the “Ducktail.” The “Pompadour” was creating by mounting hair remarkably high in the front, creating almost a sticking up angle on the forehead. Then, a stylist would typically brush the hair over to the back of the head, which flattened out the hair, creating the trademark “Pompadour” hair style.
Overall, men’s hair styles went through a revolution during the 1950s just like men’s fashion and other areas of life relevant to men. Men also faced many transformations just like women did during the 1950s.
1950s Hairstyles For Women
The nineteen fifties were a dawn of new fashions for women, and hairstyles were no exception to this rule. Women spent hours creating perfect coiffure. With a strong prevalence of the romantic, the feminine, and the There were many different types of hairstyles in the fifties, but they seem to be united by a single commonality. Whether women styled their hair with spirals, corkscrews, twists, waves, whorls, or ringlets, every girl loved the curl.
Retro Hairstyle #1: The Ponytail
The ponytail was the style of choice for the early fifties. Ponytails were seen as young, cute, and fresh. Securing a ponytail with a scarf was fashionable in the fifties. Like most hairstyles of the era, ponytails were worn curly, as was the short fringe that they were accompanied by. This look was popular among the teen-aged set.
Retro Hairstyle #2: The Bouffant
The Bouffant was a big trend as well as a big hairstyle. Hair was teased and piled high on the head, with the sides hanging down. The invention of lacquer spray, a heavy-duty hair spray, facilitated the vogue of the bouffant. When choosing a bouffant role model, Brits looked to Dusty Springfield, the queen of British pop. Americans were more likely to idolize a 1960s fashion monarch, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
Retro Hairstyle #3: The Poodle
The name sounds ridiculous, but the poodle was one of the most popular styles of the 1950s. In this cut, hair was snipped close the the head and then given a tight perm. Lucille Ball, of I Love Lucy fame, is a prime example of the fuzzy poodle cut.
Retro Hairstyle #4: The Pixie
The pixie was first popularized by actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Gina Lollobrigida. These paragons shocked audiences by cutting their hair obscenely short and utilizing spit curls in creating the pixie. This hairstyle became wildly popular among suburban housewives.
Retro Hairstyle #5: The Beehive
A beehive actually falls under the category of bouffant but is such an iconic hairstyle that it begs for its own division. Invented in 1958 in Chicago, Illinois, the aptly named beehive spread quickly, pollinating women’s brains with the idea that the bigger hair is, the better. A good beehive was achieved mainly using a sturdy lacquer spray and damaging amounts of back combing. Dusty Springfield was, again, a forerunner of this huge movement.
The fifties were a time of great fashion, big hair, and an inexplicable urge to make everything curly. The era itself is memorable, but the hairstyles are unforgettable.
1950s Pop Music
The 1950s was a highly influential decade on the establishment of the popular music genre phenomenon that continues to hold a firm grasp on the mainstream music market today. The term “pop music” actually originated in the mid ’50s, when a term was needed to describe the new age of music that was starting to develop, characterized by rock ‘n roll music that catered to a wide audience of young enthusiasts.
With the new extended availability of television within homes, youth were now able to view their favourite singers perform songs. Thus, music became an even larger part of popular culture, and the now common effects of pop music, including crazed fans, glamorously famed artists, and a booming and lucrative music industry, was able to materialize.
Bill Haley rocked the world with his number one hit single ‘Rock Around the Clock’ in 1955, changing the music scene forever, from light and breezy songs originally on television’s ‘Your Hit Parade’ to upbeat rock ‘n roll genre music that called forth screaming girls and sold out records. This pop song single-handedly ushered forth the rock revolution and provided a pathway for pop music to become mainstream worldwide and create legends wherever it travelled. ‘Rock Around the Clock’ maintains its epic fame status today, even being ranked 158th on the ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’.
Soon after followed a throng of pop music heroes. The ’50s featured classics like ‘Great Balls of Fire’ by Jerry Lee Lewis, ‘La Bamba’ by Richie Valens, and ‘Rockin’ Robin’ by Bobby Day. Legendary bells still ring when people of the 21st century here the names of prodigies such as Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, and -of course- Elvis Presley.
Elvis, the King of Rock ‘n Roll, is one of the largest standouts in pop music of all time, and his fame originated in the 1950s. In 1955 he signed with RCA, and by 1956 his first album, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, was released, selling 300,000 in the first week, and ultimately over a million, becoming a gold album.
Throughout the ’50s Elvis continued to reign as a pop music king, delivering hits such as ‘Hound Dog’, ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, and ‘Ready Teddy’. He appeared on popular television shows repeatedly, and even brought pop music to a new level by becoming a singing sensation turned actor when he starred in his first film ‘Love Me Tender’ in 1956.
The developments in music production and genre during the detrimental years of the 1950s have affected millions, and pop music continues to affect media and the music industry today. The 1950s classic songs and music legends have carved a permanent mark in the rock of human history, and their effects are timeless on human culture.
The 1950s was a peak time for superb style and design. Modern clothing and home furnishings were only one aspect of this haute couture movement, with cars playing an important role as a distinct fashion accessory for the well-to-do. The surge in car ownership after the war played a large part in the beautiful and striking designs that came forth during the 1950s.
The arcing and long-line frames of the 1940s lines slowly morphed into smaller vehicles with more personality and detail. Two-seater “metropolitans” and coupes became common. Most Windscreens were no longer split and thus became wider and longer, allowing for a brighter, peppier look. Perfectly round headlights now commonly added a tubular detail in front where the hood of the car dipped down, creating the eventual inspiration for the back fins of later cars.
The British Motor Corporation remained at the forefront of 1950s car design, having inherited Austin, Riley, Morris, Wolseley, and MG during the merger of the Austin Motor Company and the Nuffield Organization in 1952. This led the way for the beloved Austin-Healey 100 line of sports cars which spanned most of the 1950s and inspired many other vehicles.
The Morris Crowley is another vehicle which embodied a large area of car design across the board during the 1950s. It’s four-door design and wider, though split, windscreen hearkens back to 1950s design but does away with much of the excess length and running boards. While many of the cars in the United Kingdom and the United States shared similar design appearance, each make had its own unique touches. The style that ruled appeared to many then and now as perfection in car design and that high level of beauty has not been approached since.
The styles were clean, uncluttered, yet sophisticated. They matched in every sense the image that the United Kingdom and the world wished to present after the war: cultured and mature, the peak of civilization. The clothing, the cars, the buildings, and the entire culture was moving forward in a mad dash to escape the brushes with insanity encountered during the war, the absolute incivility of what had occurred. While social circles may have put on false airs for false pretences, the cars of the 1950s remain beacons of inspiration to all designers and beloved for their timeless, graceful style.
1950s British Motor Cars
When the Triumph TR2 debuted in 1953, it became clear that the British motor car industry was going to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the rest of the fifties. The Standard Motor Company produced over eight thousand of these cars in the short, two-year production time, but the car’s sleek, smooth lines and status as a true 100 mile per hour sports car made a lasting impression.
The Sunbeam Alpine coupe was another best loved British 1950s car that emerged on the market in 1953. The car gained notoriety, winning the Monte Carlo rally in 1955. The Alpine was even driven in an Alfred Hitchcock movie, “To Catch A Thief,” starring Cary Grant and the elegant Grace Kelly.
British auto manufacturers continued to prove themselves in the decade that followed. Jaguar cars were especially fast and beautiful during this era. The 1954 XK120 is particularly prized. The alloy body and ash frame were only produced in small quantities, making this an exceedingly rare car. The car came in three separate body types–the open two-seater, or OTS model, the fixed head coupe, or FHC, and the rarest form, the drophead coupe, a true convertible.
The convertible body style boasted a walnut veneer dash and trim, padded canvas top, and fixed wind screen. Jaguar continued to build a reputation throughout the fifties, producing hit luxury car after hit luxury car.
Other notable manufacturers in the fifties included Austin and AC. Austin, produced the Austin Seven. This car is better known by a later name–the ever popular and long-enduring Mini. This car, in various forms, continues in production. Austin began producing the car at the end of the decade, in 1959. One needs only to look at the road to see that the popularity of the car persists.
AC, marketed the beloved Ace two-seater beginning in 1951. The two litre car, fast for the time, and reaching speeds of over 103 miles per hour, is now worth up to $400,000 in a fully restored condition, making the Ace a very desirable car. Even Ford Motor Company played into the great boom in British autos in the 1950s, through the British operation of the company. The Zephyr, a British design, was the largest passenger car available in the British Ford line.
The fifties were an incredible era for the success of British auto manufacturers. Today, British motor cars produced in this time period are highly valued and feverishly sought after by a great number of collectors.
1950s American Motor Cars
It could be argued that automobiles pushed the USA during the 1950s. America was car-crazy, eagerly awaiting the annual release of the new models with their modern styling, new accessories, and chrome. These cars were big, ostentatious and awesome. They were a living room on wheels; a rolling flop house for friends; and a mobile bachelor pad. They were equally at home on a back road or the drive-in movie theatre. Not to mention, these were wonderful machines being made during the glory years of American engineering, design, and production.
Steel, chrome, glass, and rubber sculptures roared out of Detroit, fuelled by inexpensive gasoline and built by American labor. From front to back, these were American products. They were a national frenzy, defining an era and pushing the envelope until it was torn asunder by models like Ford’s Edsel, failure’s poster child.
Ford, General Motors and Chrysler dominated, earning them the title “The Big Three.” General Motors was the sales leader in the early 50’s with the Bel Air, which it refined and turned into their flagship product. When you hear the phrase “57 Chevy”, that means the Bel Air, be it the coupe or convertible. It was copied by all the car manufacturers. In 1953, the Corvette stunned the car world with its upfront styling and power. Newer versions took the two-seater over the top, turning it into a staple in GM model, still in production.
Ford included Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, plus the aforementioned Edsel. Ford made three Victoria series: Mainline, Customline, and Crestliner. The Tudor model was marketed to police, becoming the car of choice of police departments. Other famous Ford models were the attention-grabbing, high performance Thunderbird, the luxurious Galaxie, and the ever-popular Fairlane. Fairlane’s sales numbers were so strong that Ford tied General Motor in domestic sales in the mid-fifties.
Chrysler’s big seller in the 50’s was the big, beautiful New Yorker, available from basic to maxed-out. The Town and Country became the classic surfer station wagon, known affectionately as The Woodie. It was immortalized in pop songs and movies of the era. In 1955, the Chrysler 300 was the most powerful production car built. The De Soto Custom came in a lovely eight-passenger limousine and a luxurious sedan with a long wheelbase that became a favourite for use as a taxi. The Plymouth Belvedere, in numerous styles, and the Dodge Coronet, in all its glory, were also Chrysler mainstays.
There were independent car manufacturers, too, like Hudson, Nash and Studebaker. They tried to make their mark with unusual designs and concepts that proved ahead of their time, like compact cars. These manufacturers were forced out of business although some of their models were genuinely nice cars.
1950s TV Shows
It was only in 1946, when people could begin purchasing televisions for their own home use. Until this point, the television had been in the works by inventors from England. When the television was finally available for a mass audience, it became one of the most popular forms of communication. People used their television not only to became aware of the day’s events through the news, but also for relaxation and entertainment.
Some of the most popular television programs during the 1950s allowed the family to gather around the television and simply enjoy life. This habit was uncommon in the prior decade, when World War II had taken hold of families’ financial income everywhere and entertainment was viewed as a distraction to winning World War II.
One of the most popular shows during the 1950s show was “I Love Lucy.” This comedy was beloved by millions of people. The show featured the antics of Lucille Ball in adventures that often bemused (and sometimes confused!) her husband Ricky Ricardo. Some of the episodes that are still revered today feature the adventures of Lucille Ball in the chocolate factory with her friend Ethel, when they get a job to make some extra money. Ultimately, they fail in their job at the chocolate factory, which ends humorously in a disaster.
Another popular episode, even featured in the 1990s movie Pretty Woman, was the one in which Lucille Ball stomped on grapes to make wine, but also fails humorously in this task. “I Love Lucy” continues to be a beloved show by people everywhere around the world.
Another popular show during the 1950s was “Father Knows Best.” The show featured the daily life of a middle class Midwestern family. It is often remembered as a conservative portrayal of American life, only depicting the positive, romanticized aspects of family life. Each character from the show featured typical traits reminiscent of families during the 1950s. The father, Jim Anderson, worked as an insurance agent and was often needing his wife Margaret to calm him down as the voice of reason.
“The Honeymooners” became another popular comedy show from 1951 to 1955. The show focused on four characters living in a Brooklyn apartment in New York. The show depicts the financial struggles of the Kramdens, who are constantly seeking to have a child but are unable to do so.
During the 1950s, many of the popular television shows were light-hearted and featured a rosy depiction of family life. Some of these shows like “I Love Lucy” continue to be loved by millions around the world.
1950s Films & Cinema
Cinema in the 1950s was a big deal. Now that WW2 was over, Hollywood no longer needed to cut back on budgets or conserve material like they did in the 40’s. No more borrowing sets and costumes, movies could once again have big budgets to fit their big stars, and the stylish but sparse black and white films of the previous decade could now make way for a new age of color and spectacle not seen since before the war.
TV was now a permanent fixture in people’s homes, which meant that if audiences were going to see a movie, it had to be something special. This made way for the revival of the Epic. Biblical movies like “Quo Vadis” “The Ten Commandments” “Ben Hur” and “The Robe” graced the silver screen on a scale so big that it just couldn’t be restricted to a television set.
But even though the old glory of Hollywood was in vogue, the 50’s was really all about youth. Yes, this was the time of Rock-n-Roll, soda fountains and fast cars. Young talent was the rage and kids went wild for the likes of Elvis, James Dean and Marlon Brando, not to mention platinum pinup girl Marilyn Monroe. These Pop culture symbols would go on to become timeless icons.
You wanted to have fun at the movies, whatever genre you were going to see. Musicals enjoyed another surge in popularity and Gene Kelly made two of his best; “Singin’ in the Rain” and “An American in Paris”, while Disney was making good with both animated and live action features such as “Cinderella” “Sleeping Beauty” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and much more. If you liked being scared, you went to see Sci-Fi movies. This was the time when aliens, atomic monsters and crawling brains were flooding the theatres in all their cheesy, over the top glory.
Novelties and gimmicks were another way of keeping people in their seats. The 50’s saw the invention of 3-D which had objects coming out at you from the screen. There were also audience participation movies with costumes and props, and teenagers were borrowing their parent’s cars and flocking to drive-ins. No matter what your taste was or how old you were, there was always something playing in theatres that was sure to entertain you.
With all this to offer it is no wonder that the 1950s is considered the last decade of the golden age of cinema.
1950s Homes & Interiors
As the 1950s brought in a world that was transforming, so too was the way people decorated homes and their interiors. Home interior design began to reflect the limitless boundaries of the 1950s and the idea that luxury and refinement were acceptable in culture. Prior to the 1950s many households were forced to be restraint in ornate decorations inside the home, due to World War II.
Many home interiors made use of modern materials during the 1950s. This idea went along with the hope for the future and optimism of people around the world. Many people began using light weight metals like aluminium in the home, along with plastic, which was an invention at the time. Kitchens often made great use of aluminium as trim for countertops and on appliances.
Teak and birch were also materials used frequently throughout homes of the 1950s. During the 1950s, the aesthetic that was typically in homes was very modern, chic, and refined. Fireplaces were beginning to be stylized in interesting ways. Often, in a living room, fireplaces were now created as free standing. In addition, living rooms often featured wooden panels as the “wallpaper” of the room. A living room almost always featured a wooden hutch that showed glass china dishes off to guests that visited the home.
Some living rooms even featured large mural types of paintings. These are perhaps the only saving grace of the time period, since these large paintings were often exceptionally beautiful and gorgeous. To this day,
In the bathroom, designs were often very ornate and floral. Floral wallpaper was a huge hit in home interior design during the 1950s. In some homes, velvet wallpaper was even used in decorating the bathroom. Dramatic curtains and hanging chandeliers also often filled bathrooms, in order to give a more luxurious, ornate feel to them.
The design of bedrooms in the 1950s was very typical of what can be seen in sitcoms from the time period. Have you ever noticed how bedrooms always feature two separate beds, rather than only one? The propriety of this time period called for two separate beds in the bedroom even for married couples. Sexuality was very much “hush hush” during this time period, so people often kept it hidden from anyone that may be visiting the home.
Overall, home interiors during the 1950s attempted to reflect ideas of limitless transformation and modernism.
1950s Air Travel
Air travel took off in the 1950s, but the airline industry was a far more glamorous and exclusive market than the one that exists today. Flying may not have been as comfortable or affordable in the 1950s, but it was decidedly more fashionable. Jet airlines gained commercial success, and exotic destinations suddenly became realistic vacation spots for those who could afford the ticket.
Add well-dressed stewardesses, handsome pilots, and the airline industry’s image literally took off in upscale marketing campaigns designed to attract business travellers and wealthy consumers. Traveling by plane was a special event in 1950. Tickets were more expensive, airlines were a bit more luxurious, and passengers, pilots, and stewardesses all dressed the part.
As air travel gained popularity in the 1950s, the fashion behind the airline industry helped propel it into success. Stewardesses wore form fitting designer uniforms that were far from the dowdy, ankle length predecessors in previous decades. A-line dresses, form fitting suits, and expert tailoring created by top fashion designers gave airlines glamorous, attractive uniforms for employees.
Pillbox hats completed ensembles full of careful details, right down to the types of buttons and coordinating accessories. Ladylike and polished, stewardesses were beauty and fashion icons in the 1950s, and their designer suits are still popular today.
Airline passengers followed suit, so to speak, when dressing to fly- while today it’s common to wear casual clothing on a flight, in the 1950s a travel suit and dressing up was more common. As air travel gained popularity in the 1950s, designers created suits that were more resistant to wrinkling and did not require dry cleaning for frequent travellers.
Men wore sharp tailored suits, sometimes off the rack, but more often custom fitted to convey a more distinguished and expensive appearance. Ladies also dressed up with heels, fitted dresses, and fashionable luggage, which were all part of the jet-set image conveyed when traveling by plane. The classic hourglass silhouette with a nipped waist and elegant accessories was the fashion standard for women. Chic, refined, and custom fashions reigned on the flight runways. Air travel was a special occurrence in the 1950s, and travellers dressed appropriately for the part.